Welcome to May, which marks the first full month of Spring, and the League of American Bicyclists’ National Bike Month. The group will celebrate the month with a variety of programs and events, including Bike-to-Work Week May 16-20, and Bike-to-Work Day on Friday May 20. Here on the GJEL blog, we will be posting a series of in depth blog posts on bicycle safety and bike accident statistics here in California and nationwide. To start off the month, we’ve collected data on the states that have pushed ahead of the pack with strict bicycle safety laws: Oregon, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, California, and Maryland.

It’s important to note that our list differs from LAB’s 2010 “Bicycle Friendly State Rankings.” That list takes into account many factors including bicycle legislation, infrastructure, education and enforcement. While these are important factors (and we considered their data to help with our list), our focus on the GJEL blog is safety, so we put that front and center to come up with the five states below. While the LAB has a long history of supporting safety initiatives for cyclists of all ages, the group has long been divided in its support for mandatory bike helmet laws. For this reason, the LAB may not consider states with laws mandating helmet use for children, for example, as “friendly” to cyclists. So we’ve put together another list of great states for bicyclists, with a primary emphasis on states that advocate the maximum safety requirements.

We looked at a variety of factors, including bicycle helmet laws for children, cycling under the influence laws, the LAB ranking, and cities included in Bicycling Magazine’s list of 50 great bicycle cities. Take a look, and leave your thoughts in the comments section or on our Facebook page.


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  • Helmet Law: Ages 15 and under.
  • Cycling under the Influence Law: Yes.
  • LAB Rank: 5.
  • Bicycling: Portland ranked #2; Eugene ranked #5; Salem ranked #19.
  • In recent years, Oregon’s legislature has passed a bevy of laws to benefit cyclists, including a requirement for large vehicles to have “crossview mirrors” to detect cyclists, and a “Share the Road” license plate to help raise funds for the state’s Bicycle Transportation Alliance and Cycle Oregon.
  • Massachusetts

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  • Helmet Law: Ages 16 and under.
  • Cycling under the influence law: Yes.
  • LAB Rank: 15.
  • Bicycling: Boston ranked #26.
  • In 2009, Governor Deval Patrick signed a major Bicycle Safety law that included bicycle law training for police officers, imposed stricter enforcement, solidified the legal right-of-way for cyclists and made “dooring” subject to a traffic ticket.
  • New Hampshire

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  • Helmet Law: Ages 15 and under.
  • Cycling under the Influence Law: Yes.
  • LAB Rank: 6.
  • Bicycling: N/A.
  • In 2009, New Hampshire imposed an innovative twist on a 3-foot passing law, that requires vehicles to give an extra foot for every 10 mph over 30 mph they are driving. That means 6 feet on high-speed highways.
  • California

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  • Helmet Law: Ages 17 and under.
  • Cycling under the Influence Law: Yes.
  • LAB Rank: 19.
  • Bicycling: San Francisco ranked #6; Long Beach ranked #19.
  • California’s cities are getting serious about bike safety. LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has called for a statewide helmet law, and the SFMTA has implemented a variety of new programs to improve bike safety at high-traffic intersections.
  • Maryland

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  • Helmet Law: Ages 15 and under.
  • Cycling under the Influence Law: No.
  • LAB Rank: 11.
  • Bicycling: N/A.
  • Maryland doesn’t mess around when it comes to bicycle accidents, and places the default blame on the motorist. If a bicyclist is seriously hurt in a vehicle collision, the driver is fined $1,000 and given three points on his or her driving record.
  • Photo credit: Greg Balzer